Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

September 23 to October 7, 2022

Attention Anglers: A recording of the Lake Erie and WNY Fishing Hotline is once again available at 716-855-3474.

Free Fishing Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day, Saturday, September 24th is a designated free fishing day in New York. Anyone can fish the freshwaters of the state and no fishing license is required! It is a great time to introduce someone new to fishing. All other freshwater fishing regulations still apply.

Lake Erie, Tributaries & Harbors

The boating season is winding down on Lake Erie but good walleye prospects remain from Cattaraugus Creek to the PA line in 70-90 feet of water. Stickbaits and worm harnesses run within 30 feet of bottom is a good bet. Buffalo anglers are catching good numbers of walleye just after dark off in 20-45 feet of water between Seneca Shoals and the windmills. Anglers have had to pick through some shorts for a limit catch. Anglers report consistent yellow perch catches off Cattaraugus Creek in 55-70 feet of water, though some perch are showing inside of 50 feet as well. Search around with electronics for perch schools on bottom before dropping lines. Live emerald shiners, golden shiners or salted shiners fished at the bottom is the typical tactic.

Last week there were limited numbers of smaller steelhead in the lower stretch of Cattaraugus Creek. The Erie tributaries then received a couple rain induced flow bumps this week, and all but the Catt quickly dropped back to low or very low levels. The Catt is currently at a prime level and is the best option this weekend. Look for steelhead to have pushed up further in that system. From the flow peaks this past week and current gage levels, it looks like Eighteenmile and Chautauqua Creeks are also options for steelhead in the lower stretches. Shore anglers can also target steelhead from the Cattaraugus Creek breakwall or by wading off creek mouths and casting spoons and spinners. For those new to steelhead fishing see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Niagara River

The NYPA fishing platform remains the top king salmon spot in the lower Niagara River, as salmon are attracted to the highly oxygenated water exiting the power plant. Platform anglers are catching fair numbers of salmon and walleye. Shore anglers in the gorge are starting to hook up with the occasional salmon too. Shore anglers in the gorge can target salmon by casting large glow spoons and Vibrax spinners during low light periods. River waters are still a bit warm for the big push of fish and charter boats have yet to concentrate efforts in the Devils Hole drift for salmon. Smallmouth bass and walleye are still available from Lewiston to the mouth of the river. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see Fishing the Lower Niagara River.

Lake Ontario, Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Trollers are catching some staging king salmon off creek mouths. The bite off the stocked tributaries is typically best, including the Niagara River, Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek and the Genesee River. Target staging salmon in 20-50 feet of water from dusk through to just after daybreak. After sunrise, depths of 50-100 feet is a better bet. Flasher-fly combos, meat rigs, J-Plugs, J-13 Rapalas and large spoons are good offerings. A mix of steelhead and smaller salmon are still available in deeper, offshore waters. Run gear in the top 100 feet. Pier anglers are starting to catch a few king salmon from the piers at Eighteenmile, Oak Orchard and Genesee River. This week's north winds added a helpful stain to nearshore waters and possibly pushed more fish along the nearshore. Casting heavy (3/4 ounce plus) Little Cleo, K.O. Wobbler and Moonshine glow spoons (or similar) at pier sites from dusk till dawn is the typical tactic for kings. Treated skein fished under a float can be productive on calmer nights. Look for brown trout to also show at the aforementioned pier sites and the Wilson pier.

Limited king salmon and a few brown trout have pushed up to the dams at Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks, but there have been few hook-ups thus far. Flows are favorable at Eighteenmile and the Oak thanks to supplemental water releases from the Erie Canal as part of the Fall Fishing Program. Another key factor, water temperature, is getting there with current temps in the mid-60s. As temperatures continue to fall these streams will be prime for the big push of fish. For those new to tributary fishing, see the Pacific Salmon Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page for more information.

NYS Canal Corporation Fall Fishing Program: For an enhanced angling experience and a longer season of sustained flows this fall, the New York State Canal Corporation will soon commence supplemental water releases from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario tributaries in western New York. Eighteenmile, Oak Orchard and Sandy Creeks are scheduled to receive increased flow releases from September 15 through December 15, and Johnson Creek to receive increased flow releases from October 13 through December 15. For more information and water release schedule visit http://www.canals.ny.gov/Fall_fishing/index.html. Releases are subject to change, so check back for updates.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye fishing has been spotty with no real consistency in any zone or depth. Anglers can target walleye by trolling tight to weedlines and by trolling or vertical jigging in 20-30 feet of water. Jigging around the rims of the deeper holes in the north basin is also worth a try as some walleye typically move into these areas in fall. Muskellunge fishing has been decent along weed edges. Casting or trolling large stickbaits is a good tactic. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Streams

Most inland trout streams have slightly low to low water levels, but water temperatures are now more favorable. Early fall is a good time to fish the inland trout streams, as trout are active and feeding in cooler water. Check the Fishing For Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, equipment and techniques. As a reminder, new Inland Trout Stream Regulations became effective April 1, 2021, on many inland trout streams. To view stream access areas, trout stocked sections and more, visit the interactive Trout Stream Fishing Map and user guide.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!